Israeli startup Yoggie Security Systems has announced the world’s smallest hardware firewall, fitting a suite of firewall applications on a tiny USB stick device.

The Yoggie Pico is designed to protect laptops from attack while on the road, putting up a barrier of 13 different security applications running on the device itself to stop incursion. Following on from last year’s larger and slower Gatekeeper Pro, the corporate version will be marketed as a complete protection product, allowing policies to be set from a central server for a range of third-party and in-house security applications, including anti-virus, URL filtering, anti-spam, packet firewalling and VPN connections.

Despite its unusually small size and USB interface, the Pico packs a complex hardware design into its miniature proportions, featuring a 520 MHz CPU, flash and SD RAM, all running a suite of third-party security software on Linux. As with its big brother, the Gatekeeper, the Pico updates its signature files transparently every five minutes, from a central location, without the need for user involvement.

Because the Pico has no Ethernet port, installing it means that all traffic into the PC has to be redirected into the Pico via USB before making its way back to the PC via the Windows TCP/IP stack. The company claims this doesn’t have any impact on performance as the device’s throughput is now up to 480Mbp/s, which stops latency being an issue at 10/100 speeds.

According to Yoggie, the Pico’s co-processing frees laptops from the burden of running multiple CPU and memory-sapping applications on Windows itself, and from the nuisance of near daily anti-malware updates and reboots. The Pico is intended as a complete replacement for running security applications on the laptop.

“I buy a computer for productivity, not security,” points out company founder and CEO Shlomo Touboul. “But 40-50 percent of a computer’s resources are just securing a computer. The Pico stops the threat before it reaches the laptop,” he said.

The Pico’s design was a rational way of taming the tangle that security has become by moving it to a single, managed, device, he said.

The product is available in two versions, one for consumers, and one for businesses. The business-oriented Pico Professional costs $199 including all updates, plus a $30 per year subscription payable from the end of year one.